“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” Isaiah 61:1
When Jesus launched His teaching ministry, this text was the initial volley in His Kingdom invasion. To me, that is fascinating. Why did Jesus chose this passage, and furthermore, why did the Father highlight the poor for the message? The answer reveals a lot about both man’s problem (sin) and God’s solution (the gospel).
The reason Jesus highlighted poverty as one of the main targets for His first message is obvious, but it is often missed by the prosperous west: poverty is one of the primary manifestations of the fall of man. Poverty is oppressive, driving men to desperation and rash decisions. Poverty has a way of multiplying the pains of life…and God is against it! It is absolutely contrary to His nature.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God specifically addresses this plight. Wherever the Gospel takes root, the condition of man is always elevated. But it doesn’t elevate by a mere handout (although it may begin there), it does so by revealing man’s true identity and purpose. The Gospel doesn’t simply meet a man’s temporary need, it unleashes a permanent solution in the form of man’s own potential. It opens his eyes to both the goodness of God and the ability of man.
Poverty is a mindset before it is a ledger balance. Our interior life dictates our interaction with our exterior world. In fact, both poverty and prosperity are an inside job. Starting with our perceptions, they each create an outcome to match.
The gospel gives men sight. It doesn’t merely guarantee an eternal destination, it enables a man to see himself for who he is and what he is created for, pulling him into his destiny. That has huge ramifications on what we are capable of doing. Belief actually determines what a man can see. Where poverty sees impossibility, prosperity sees opportunity. But the primary difference between them is how they frame one’s view of oneself.
The Gospel pulls men up into their original identity, redefining them according to their original design. It restores their dignity by igniting their potential. Ultimately, this will always result in financial gain. God has placed within each of us abilities that match the needs of the hour. As we grow in Him, these abilities begin to emerge through service to others. In becoming like Him, we begin to reach our potential.